Rewriting the Books - Battleground

So I guess this year we're getting not one, but TWO new pay-per-view events. Before I had that thought, I was thinking that 'Battleground' was a pretty terrible name for an event, but I'm not so sure after remembering we've already had Payback. Of course an unimpressive name is the least of this pay-per-view's worries. With just three weeks of build (and Hell in a Cell's getting the same treatment at the end of the month), there's less to analyze and less to critique, so you'll probably see some thinner paragraphs than normal this time around.


Rewriting the Books - Summerslam 2013

I suppose that, given the time at which I'm writing this post, it'd be best to start off by acknowledging the news that broke earlier this week. Darren Young of the Prime Time Players came out of the closet in an interview during Summerslam Axxess, making him the first openly gay WWE superstar. I have my own suspicions that the incident was not entirely organic, but that's all secondary to the fact that this is incredibly good news. WWE has been very positive about the news and it's great to see the amount of support that Young is receiving from his peers in the industry. Let's hope it continues once the media storm dies down.

Brief thoughts on Money in the Bank:
-The WHC Money in the Bank ladder match was immensely entertaining and I started marking the hell out when Cody Rhodes went on a tear towards the end. Realization that Damien Sandow hadn't shown up for a while quickly set in even before he ran out from his hiding spot, but even knowing what was about to happen, the conclusion of the match played out wonderfully.
-I honestly don't remember a single thing that happened in the Axel-Miz match. That can't be good.
-I felt cheated out of a better match when Layla interfered in the Kaitlyn-AJ bout, and I'm not glad to see her in a prominent role again.
-Ryback narrowly escaping with a cheap victory over Jericho just felt wrong.
-Both the world championship matches ended very disappointingly.
-Although I am strongly against Randy Orton being in any role of significance with the WWE Championship briefcase, the actual ladder match was still very good. And I say that as someone who doesn't really care about RVD.
-So I guess overall there were great highs and dumb lows. As a whole the show was not all that great, but the ladder matches delivered as always.

Off the Card:
The most conspicuous absence from the card is Sheamus, who could be out of action until next year due to a pretty nasty shoulder injury. More puzzling is the complete absence of otherwise prominent tag teams - the Shield aren't being advertised at all outside of Dean Ambrose's pre-show match, despite their ongoing dispute with the Usos and the recently turned Mark Henry. That last detail makes their absence from the card particularly strange - why have a guy feud for the top championship and then bother to turn him if you're not going to use him in the second-biggest show of the year a mere month later? Perhaps the Shield's open challenge on Monday will be answered and there will be a last-minute addition to the card. An alternate theory is that WWE is pushing the Wyatt Family at the cost of the Shield, as some rumors postulate, but I don't really buy into that. The Shield was in the main event of Raw a week and a half ago, I think it's a little early to say they're losing their push. If October rolls around and they're jobbing out to 3MB on Superstars, then feel free to say you told me so. While we're on the subject of champions not being on the card, where the hell is Curtis Axel? I'm guessing WWE doesn't want him to have a match on the same show as Brock Lesnar, due to the Heyman connection. Or hell, maybe they figured the Divas match was more important.

Kickoff United States Championship Match: Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Rob Van Dam
Dean Ambrose's newest challenger was determined in the long-standing United States Championship tradition of a battle royal one week before the match, leaving no time to build any sort of feud or storyline between the two opponents. That said I'm all for Ambrose utterly destroying RVD, and I'm sure he'll look better doing it than he would having a match against Mark Henry.

I might deliberately skip watching this match so that I can pretend RVD becomes possessed by Andre the Giant's ghost, forcing the Shield combat him with proton packs.

PS: If anyone happens to find fanart of RVD being possessed by Andre the Giant's ghost, forcing the Shield to combat him with proton packs, please send it to me.

Brie Bella vs. Natalya
Gah, having to write about this match makes me want to just stop doing these previews altogether. Okay, let's start by putting this in the simplest possible terms and then working our way up...Natalya challenged Brie (just Brie, because Nikki is injured and so it can't be a tag match) to this match because the Bellas have been taunting her mercilessly for the last several weeks because...I don't know. Because they're bitches, I guess. Their taunts have largely consisted of calling her ugly, including referring to her as an ugly duckling (which if their characters were any more intelligent than lobotomized rocks they would realize will come back to bite them in the ass considering how the tale of The Ugly Duckling concludes), which they thought was so clever that Nikki distracted Natalya with a duck call for about twenty full seconds during a match with Brie, who of course won. I'm noticing that recently divas have really been stepping up the whole "come out to distract the person you're feuding with to cost them the victory" thing. AJ and Kaitlyn dress up as each other and put on full skits, for crying out loud. The dudes just come out to their own music and stand at ringside until somebody gets rolled up. Next time Wade Barrett and Kofi Kingston are feuding, Kofi should come out with a ventriloquist's dummy and recite assorted awful jokes while drinking water for a minute and a half before Barrett finally gets RKO'd to death.

Anyway. This match of course is meant to act as a cross-promotion with the Total Divas show on E! Network. All of the featured divas on that show (except for the rookie Jojo) are somehow involved in this match, as Nikki, Eva Marie, and the Funkadactyls will all be at ringside. That doesn't change the fact that the entire basis of the tension between Brie and Natalya is that the former thinks the latter is unattractive. Not exactly a revolutionary premise. I suspect Brie will win, and less than three quarters of the people watching the pay-per-view will stick around to witness it.

Mixed Gender Tag Team Match: AJ Lee and Big E Langston vs. Dolph Ziggler and Kaitlyn
I think I need someone to explain to me how we wound up at this point with these four characters. Not in terms of reminding me of the sequence of events, because I remember that, but what thread of logic connects Kaitlyn inadvertently costing Ziggler a match to Big E with the two agreeing to team up against AJ. Just because you share a common foe doesn't mean you should decide to team up together, especially when it's for a fucking Mixed Gender match, which is actually just two singles matches cut together. This seems like a contrived way for Kaitlyn to get a pay-per-view victory over AJ without costing her the Divas Championship, and it seems more structured to serve that purpose than it seems to be based around the characters involved. Dolph seemed to get distracted from his efforts to reclaim the World Heavyweight Championship pretty easily, and it won't do him any good to win a mixed tag match. And again, why would he want to partner with Kaitlyn, whom he has no reason to place his faith in, other than she too has a beef with Layla? Though I suppose you could convince me that some of that old spark from a few years ago is still there...
NXT Season 3. Never forget.

It just feels weird because at this point a month ago, all four of these people were feuding with each other, but Kaitlyn was actually pursuing the Divas Championship and Ziggler was pursuing the World Heavyweight Championship. This feels like a step down for all the parties involved, save for Big E. And while it's nice that Big E is taking an official part in the match, I would prefer it if he just got a singles bout on pay-per-view for once.
Cody Rhodes vs. Damien Sandow
Now we're getting somewhere. Of all the midcard face turns that have happened in the past year, Cody Rhodes' seems to be working the best. Unlike Miz, Ziggler, and Henry, he's actually taken a step up because of his turn, and he's getting his fair share of cheers without having to lean on Ricardo Rodriguez as Del Rio did. I think what I like most about Cody's part in this build-up is he's going after Sandow for all the 'wrong' reasons, because he's still got a lot of villainous qualities that he hasn't shaken off. He's been harassing his former best friend because of bitterness, and has committed theft and assault to get back at him. While he's mentioned that there is also a noble side to his motivation - that he dislikes how Sandow thinks himself superior to everyone - it all comes back to selfishness - mostly he dislikes Sandow thinking himself to superior to him, Cody. The great thing about all this is that Sandow is so good at portraying a completely unlikable asshole that Cody's actions seem entirely justified, and his suffering during the course of the past month has been incredibly enjoyable. The real question is whether Cody can continue to be interesting and entertaining as a face once he moves past his feud with Sandow, but that's something that will have to be determined later. For the time being, I have no problems with this storyline, and I look forward to the match they'll have. Because the briefcase isn't on the line, I'll pick Cody to win the match.

Ring of Fire Match: Bray Wyatt vs. Kane God, this is great isn't it? Wyatt and Kane are literally fighting over which of them is a better demon. Pity this isn't a straight-up Inferno match, but I guess you can't really do such a thing in the current WWE. I have no issues with this match. It'll be a great spectacle with a different sort of build that should put Wyatt over big as an incredible new threat. REALLY looking forward to this.

World Heavyweight Championship Match: Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Christian
There hasn't really been much substance to the tension between Del Rio and Christian in the past month, but that's not to say I'm not interested in seeing what happens between them. Del Rio has separated himself from Ricardo Rodriguez now, and while that may lead to a short-term increase in resentment from the audience, it may do long-term damage to his character. Without Ricardo and without his fancy entrance, there's now not a lot to make Del Rio stand out from the crowd. His character has to evolve, and quickly, and take on new and interesting qualities to replace the ones that he has shed. I'm willing to bet that Del Rio will win, because at this point he really needs the World Heavyweight Championship until those new qualities start to come out. Meanwhile, Christian has at last returned to the championship scene after two years of on-and-off injury problems, which really play well into his character. Christian's contribution to this storyline cannot be judged by the past month of build, it must be judged by how he has changed in the past year and a half. Following his loss of the championship exactly two years ago at Summerslam 2011, Christian acted as a villain who couldn't own up to his own failures, insisting he just needed "One more match" for the World Heavyweight Championship to regain it. After leaving television with injuries and returning from them several times, it's pretty easy to see Christian as a changed man. His body is beginning to break down, and he'll turn forty in a few months. The time he has left to regain the championship seems short. It was very easy for Christian to get the crowd back on his side a year ago, and any time he has had to leave for a while to recover and then returned, he's had no trouble settling right back in. Christian is a popular veteran whom people want to see grab the gold one last time, and an arrogant friendless foreign tycoon who tries to break people's arms when they're at their weakest is standing in his way. Not the most complex match-up, but certainly one with an obvious hero and villain.

Brock Lesnar vs. CM Punk
Another really simple build when you think about it. Punk dumped Heyman, Heyman couldn't get over it, he wants Brock to murder Punk. Brock is fine with this, because Brock is fine with murdering everybody. Since then, Brock has looked like a monster and Punk has refused to back down. The thing that sets this feud apart from the one between Brock and Triple H is that Triple H never truly looked like the underdog heading into their matches. At best the two looked to be on equal footing, and at worst Triple H would completely school Lesnar in half their physical encounters leading into the match. Fortunately this time around Hunter is busy ruining another match on the card, so Punk-Brock is looking pretty good. Brock again looks like a horrifying monster, and looks better than he has since before his match with Cena last year. I'm calling Brock to win, but the build has been pretty effective in pushing the idea that Punk at least stands a small chance against him.

WWE Championship Match: Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena (c)
You just couldn't help yourself, could you Hunter?

The build-up to this match was brilliant up until Monday. John Cena, most popular guy on the roster, poster boy for the current era of WWE, against the indy and Internet darling Daniel Bryan, his antithesis. Stagnant character versus constantly evolving character. Five moves of doom versus the best wrestler on the planet. Clean-cut versus scraggly beard. Shitty generic t-shirts versus awesome goofy t-shirts. Implants Bella twin versus natural Bella twin. The star of the last decade versus the potential star of the next decade. As time went by, things got more heated between Cena and Bryan, their opinions of each other beginning tepidly respectful but gradually turning sour as they began taking shots at each other, Bryan rejecting the idea that Cena is truly a wrestler and Cena firing back that Bryan does not deserve to be respected until he wins the championship. All of this culminated in a truly awesome bit where Bryan basically claimed that Cena was not even worthy of being slapped by him, even after Cena similarly struck Bryan in anger. Meanwhile, Randy Orton has made it no secret that he'll cash in on either Cena or Bryan should the opportunity present itself. Meanwhile, Vince McMahon has stated that he hates the shit out of both Cena and Bryan, and wants neither one to be champion. All of this is incredibly good stuff, and promises a truly exciting match two popular superstars as well as the potential for something spectacular to happen soon after the match.

And then Triple H decided to become the special guest referee for the match. Let me ask you something: Vince McMahon was pushing for Brad Maddox to be the special guest referee, presumably to fuck around with the match on his orders, and Triple H interjected because he and Vince are at each other's throats at the moment (because I totally give a shit about that). My question is this: what the fuck would Vince have to gain by having a special guest referee in the match, if he wants neither Bryan or Cena to be the champion? Well we'll never know now, since it's not happening! Secondly, I seem to recall another Summerslam that featured a technically gifted, newly massively popular wrestler battling with John Cena over the WWE Championship, Vince hating both of them, a far less popular Money in the Bank holder waiting in the wings, Cena slapping his opponent in the face, and Triple H serving as special guest referee. Remember what happened then?
This ain't looking good. Calling a screwball finish where Bryan wins due to Hunter's incompetence as a referee and then Orton ruins it all anyway.


Rewriting the Books - Money in the Bank 2013

Two years and three some-odd months ago I started watching WWE. Due to all the talk surrounding Wrestlemania, I decided to join my friends, who were already fairly invested in the product, in following the build-up to the big event and then watching it. I kept watching the show out of habit past Wrestlemania, then out of interest in R-Truth's crazy persona, and then I was swept up in the hype surrounding CM Punk. By the time Money in the Bank happened I was already a wrestling fan, and the event itself ensured that I would remain so for a good while. As a result, Money in the Bank is easily my favorite WWE pay-per-view, and from what I understand, WWE tends to be fond of it as well due to its tendency to draw a good number of buys. Money in the Bank is exciting because it is, in multiple ways, the beginning of a new chapter in WWE. It is the start of summertime storylines, and also a look into the future - often the long-term future - because of the titular Money in the Bank matches, which are all but technically extra championship matches. Last year's Money in the Bank was disappointing because it was so ridiculously easy to predict, save for the behavior of AJ in the WWE Championship match. I'm fairly certain that I correctly called the winner of every single match, and if I didn't, I certainly called both Championship matches and both ladder matches. This year looks very different in that respect, and seriously reminds me of the event that so enthralled me two years ago in that I have a feeling of what's going to happen, but I hold onto a glimmer of hope that things will go much better. Only time will tell... Anyway, let's get into it.


Rewriting the Books - Payback

So maybe this pay-per-view would've been interesting at one point before everybody suffered from concussions. By my count five different guys had to take some amount of time off in the past month, which is one of the reasons that the last few weeks of Monday Night Raw have been pretty lacking overall. A few performers really stepped up their game in that time and made their segments fun and interesting, but that didn't stop the segments that would have involved those injured performers from being painful to sit through.

Also Triple H has been on television a whole fucking ton, so there's that too.

Brief thoughts on Extreme Rules:
-The Shield now hold the United States and Tag Team Championships, which is a good move. Each member holding a belt makes the group look stronger, and additionally, the fact that they are constantly getting major segments where they hold up the championships and brag about having the championships makes the titles seem more important. The fact that an ACTUAL TAG TEAM are the Tag Team Champions is nice to see. The last time I remember that being the case was like a year ago with Primo and Epico who, while an actual tag team, were a completely irrelevant tag team. This is the first time the Tag Team Championships have seemed like an important accomplishment for a tag team in the time I've watched WWE.
-Dolph Ziggler's injury really caused problems for the feud between he, Jack Swagger, and Alberto Del Rio. Swagger and Del Rio had basically the same finish as the one they had at Wrestlemania, which was very disappointing.
-Sheamus beating Mark Henry was stupid, but predictable.
-Randy Orton is kicking dudes in the head again. Once more I must ask why the guy is supposed to be a hero.
-John Cena vs. Ryback was boring up until that last spot, which was AWESOME. By the way, Ryback should totally be champion. Dude stood up first.
-Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar was really weird. I was watching the event with MechaGM and SonikGav, and by the end, we were ACTIVELY ROOTING FOR BROCK TO WIN. None of us are Brock marks, either. We just all hate Triple H that much. Speaking of which...

Off the Card
For the love of god, get Triple H off my goddamn television. The guy is absolutely infuriating. EVERYTHING IS ALL ABOUT HIM. EVERYTHING HAS TO REVOLVE AROUND HIM. I was informed recently that I would have hated wrestling about ten years ago when he literally did this stuff all the time. HOW DID ANYONE WATCH WWE BACK THEN!? I literally just roll my eyes and sigh heavily every time there's a Triple H segment now, and my one comfort is that he'll go away soon enough. Like...god. Okay let me break this down.

Triple H lost his match to Brock Lesnar at Extreme Rules (and there was much rejoicing), in fact he not only lost, he got majorly fucked up. The next night, Michael McGillicutty re-debuts as Curtis Axel with Paul Heyman as his manager, ensuring that his one major weakness - his lack of charisma and inability to cut a promo - is guarded (and then he grabs the mic and cuts boring promos anyway BUT THAT'S BESIDE THE POINT). So Triple H comes out and decides he's sore over losing to Heyman's other guy and he's going to bully the new kid and shit all over him and call him a pussy BECAUSE HE'S THE HERO~! So they have a match and eventually getting hit in the head repeatedly makes Triple H remember that he was hit in the head repeatedly last night, so he's all I WANT TO FIGHT FOR I AM BADASS, BUT ALAS, I CANNOT MOVE ANYMORE. And a legion of followers flock to him to make sure he's okay while THE RE-DEBUTING CURTIS AXEL sits in the ring and is forgotten by everybody BECAUSE TRIPLE H IS IMPORTANT! So over the next several weeks Triple H is all THAT GUY IS A PUSSY AND SHOULDN'T HAVE BEATEN ME BECAUSE HE IS TERRIBLE I WANT TO BEAT HIM AND PROVE THAT I AM AWESOME and the crowd is all YAYYYY TRIPLE H and then everyone else is all TRIPLE H ISN'T COMPETING BECAUSE WE WANT TO PROVE WE ARE YOUR MASTERS AND YOU BARK EVERY TIME WE YANK YOUR CHAIN. And every time he's around it's nothing about how great Triple H is but now he's not even fighting because he wants to beat Axel, he's fighting because he wants to prove he's badass because he's got huge pride, and the opponent isn't even the important part. Didn't help that Stephanie McMahon basically said Axel was nothing five times. And now THIS TIME THEY'RE REALLY GONNA HAVE A MATCH the night after Payback. I pray that they'll have the match and Axel immediately rips his head off and punts it into the stands.

Pre-Show Kickoff Match: Damien Sandow vs. Sheamus
Once again we've got a Sheamus feud in which I am absolutely convinced that Sheamus is actually the bad guy. Granted, Sandow has done a better job at selling himself as a class-A jerk who nobody should like. That's the difference between this storyline and the Mark Henry storyline from last month - Henry would come out and brag about how strong he was, and then Sheamus couldn't beat him in a contest of strength so he snuck in a cheap shot. This time, Sandow comes out to brag about how smart he is, provokes the crowd and makes it clear that he doesn't care that none of them like what he has to say, and often has some underhanded means of 'defeating' Sheamus mentally. Sheamus has kind of gone out of his way to set himself up as a far worse bully than Sandow though. Dude keeps on kicking Sandow and breaking his toys just for fooling him in ways that really aren't consequential. There was nothing on the line in any of Sandow's challenges except pride, so it's disturbing that Sheamus would be so quick to anger. For several weeks straight, Sandow would prove Sheamus wasn't incredibly smart, then Sheamus would get mad and try to kick him in the head. Sandow would either dodge out of the way, or he would get kicked in the head. Finally everything came to a head when Sandow was in the ring not really doing harm to anyone (although putting on a masturbatory show that everyone hated, except those of us who thought it was FUCKING HILARIOUS) playing chess with, allegedly, "Deep Blue", which was actually just a monitor. So then Sheamus comes out and destroys the monitor by kicking it, and Sandow understandably gets pissed over the property damage and attacks Sheamus and leaves him lying in the ring.

Here's a thought: what if Sandow had actually done something to, you know, JUSTIFY SHEAMUS TRYING TO MURDERKICK HIM? Sandow was very straightforward with his point - Sheamus failed each mental challenge he presented, so he got to call himself smarter than Sheamus. Sheamus did little to refute this with logic and reason, he just went straight for the "Kick it in the head" option, therefore further proving Sandow's point that he's little more than a muscular thug incapable of thinking out how to solve problems he's presented with. If Sandow had done something to further push Sheamus into taking that option, such as by rejecting his attempts at being a good sport, then I could give this storyline a pass. As is, it's not very good, but it's better than the one with Mark Henry last month.

Intercontinental Championship Triple-Threat Match: Curtis Axel vs. The Miz vs. Wade Barrett (c)
Poor Wade. One day he shall win a match of importance.

This match was, of course, originally going to involve Fandango, but he suffered a concussion and will not compete in the match. As a result, Paul Heyman opportunistically inserted Axel into the open spot in the match. Axel's involvement in the storyline was rushed and never really built up, but not really to the detraction of anything. The build-up between the original three was minimalist - Miz and Barrett would take what chances they could to sneak attack their opponents, and Fandango just tried to dance whenever he could. There was little of substance to anything, but there wasn't anything bad to it, either. This is pretty easily the most disposable match on the card.

Divas Championship Match: AJ Lee vs. Kaitlyn (c)
In the span of ten minutes, a seemingly worthless story about Kaitlyn having a secret admirer suddenly transformed into the best build to a match on the card. AJ revealed herself as a secret admirer and that the entire thing was a ploy to get a psychological advantage over her former best friend. The segment was acted beautifully by everyone involved - AJ was absolutely fantastic, and Big E Langston and Kaitlyn played their parts pretty well, each having to portray a decent range of emotions in a short span of time. This is the match with the most history behind it - more than the Jericho-Punk match, as the two have crossed paths in recent history but have not been connected consistently, like Kaitlyn and AJ have. Honestly I could go on about this match for a while, but somebody else has already said everything else I possibly could. I'm looking forward to seeing this match and, hopefully, seeing this feud continue.

United States Championship Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Kane
This is the match of leftovers in the "The Shield vs. Enemies of The Shield" feud that also includes Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan, and, uh. I don't really care about it. It'll be fun to see Ambrose have a big one-on-one match against a guy significantly bigger than him and hopefully find a way to win (I can guarantee he won't lose the championship), but it's clear that this match is only here to keep Kane involved with the bigger storyline. It's a match made from necessity, and obviously so.

Tag Team Championship Match: Not Team Hell No For Some Reason (Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton) vs. The Shield (Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins) (c)
In kayfabe, this match was made for the dumbest possible reasons. Kane and Daniel Bryan have been on the outs recently, but that's never stopped them from competing as a team before, so the fact that they should be separated now, of all times, as Bryan heads into a match for the titles, is stupid. In reality Bryan and Orton are partners because there's going to be some sort of storyline built between them. That has to be it. And in fairness, the fact that the two have been involved with each other the last several weeks - and all while trying to take down The Shield, as Bryan becomes a toxic presence due to his inferiority complex - is a good touch. I don't buy for a second that The Shield could possibly lose the titles, but I'm not ready to pass judgment on this whole deal just yet. It feels like the opening chapter of something else, and I need to know what that is before I decide whether or not I like where it's going.

World Heavyweight Championship Match: Alberto Del Rio vs. Dolph Ziggler (c)
Yayyy, Dolph's back and we can build a feud between he and Del- oh look time for the pay-per-view.

Yeah, uh...there's nothing really to talk about, is there? And it's not even really the fault of the writers (although the fact that they couldn't think of anything for Del Rio to do beyond wrestle Langston 800 times in the past several weeks is pretty unimpressive), so I'm just gonna give this one a pass.

Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk
If this show were taking place anywhere but Chicago, I would entertain the idea that Punk isn't going to show. He might not anyway, but I strongly doubt it. This is a weird feud, because Jericho is pissed over things that Punk has supposedly been doing when he has absolutely no means of knowing what Punk has actually been doing for the past couple months. Heyman is still talking Punk up, because that's what he does, but for all Jericho knows, Punk has recently become the humblest guy on the planet. Jericho's actions are those of a bored, bored man who has nothing better to do with his time than to bother people with much more important things to do, then bully them in uncomfortably sexual manners because apparently that's the only way good guys can confront Heyman anymore. Jericho has been a godawful good guy since his latest return, which is par for the course for the top good guys in WWE but seems even worse in Jericho's case because the usually far more interesting bad guy he's involved with isn't there to make his segments bearable. I admit that I am very curious what will happen when Punk shows up, because I sense a tweak to his character is coming.

WWE Championship Three Stages of Hell Match: John Cena (c) vs. Ryback

Heel Ryback was so good leading into Extreme Rules. He was. Then for about the first half of the build to Payback, he was still good. He was putting fuckers through tables left and right and calling himself the devil. Then he and Cena shouted at each other to shut up like a couple of arguing nine-year-olds. Rumor has it that the creative team has admitted to being completely out of ideas on what to do with Cena and Ryback. There has been no exploration of the conflict between the two characters since Extreme Rules, it's all been focused on putting over the stipulation. It really seems to me like Ryback knows what his character is, but the writers don't and Cena doesn't either. If WWE's writers can't squeeze eight weeks material out of "Horrifying monster believes he's the best wrestler in the company and deserves to have everything he wants and has a personal vendetta against the champion due to perceived slights against him that have occurred over the past half a year" then Ryback feuds are going to be very boring for a very long time. The feud between the two of them hasn't even ESCALATED since the Last Man Standing match. You would think that Ryback would be royally pissed that he lost his shot at the championship on a technicality, why isn't he jumping Cena every five seconds? Why does Cena seem to be taking Ryback so much less seriously now? Nobody working on this story seems to care. They just want to have their huge blow-off match and get the hell out of dodge.


Rewriting the Books - Extreme Rules 2013

Hoo boy, it's been a little while since I last did this, huh? I'm going to apologize in advance because I really didn't feel up to writing this thing. With no matches involving Ziggler, CM Punk, or Cesaro, I really couldn't get excited about the upcoming event.

Random crap that has happened since I wrote this for Wrestlemania:
- Dolph Ziggler became World Heavyweight Champion the night after Mania. Because why have his big moment on the biggest night of the year, right?
- 'Fandangoing' has become a thing.
- Ryback got a hundred times more interesting.
- Antonio Cesaro lost the United States Championship (boooo).
- Wade Barrett lost the Intercontinental Championship to The Miz but won it back the next night and has since done jack shit

For the record, Wrestlemania was pretty much exactly what I expected. Everything I thought would be good was good, everything I thought I wouldn't care for, I didn't care for. It was probably the second-best Wrestlemania I've seen. I have seen three.

Off the Card
With a full eight matches on the main card plus the Youtube pre-show match all lined up, it's pretty easy to see why certain storylines just aren't on the card - there's not enough room for them. Which gives me plenty of reason to complain about the matches I'm not looking forward to! So first of all, how the hell long is AJ going to be #1 contender to the Divas Championship before she actually gets a match against Kaitlyn? I swear this is the first time I've actually cared about the Divas division for the entire calendar year, and I actually want to see this match because I care about both characters and know they can competently wrestle. Why did you bother making AJ the #1 contender if she's not going to go after the title until the next pay-per-view? Also, as I touched on earlier, Wade Barrett has absolutely nothing going on, because he's a heel holding a midcard championship and he's not feuding with Miz or Kofi Kingston anymore. It's truly unfortunate how unimportant the guy is when he has the potential to be so much greater than a number of the guys ahead of him.

YouTube Pre-Show Match: Cody Rhodes vs. The Miz
Subtitle: "Here are two guys we really like but we have absolutely nothing for them right now." Miz has been away for several weeks so there was no chance to properly build a story for him. Cody has unfortunately been very quiet since Wrestlemania, but a throwaway match is better than no match. Not much else to say here, except I hope both guys get more important things to do soon.

Chris Jericho vs. Fandango
I really don't care so much about this storyline anymore. Note that this is one of two rematches from Wrestlemania on the card, and I'm not excited about either of them. Fandango is always entertaining to me when he comes out, but the approach Jericho's character has taken to him has been really strange. Jericho lost to Wrestlemania, right? So he wants revenge on him, right? So he should be provoking him into a rematch, right? But instead he provokes him into a dance contest, then acts all mad when Fandango snaps and attacks him. Dude, shouldn't you have been trying to provoke him into fighting you this whole time? Why are you mad now? Now you get a sanctioned match where you can try to kick his ass. Or did you just want the goofball antics to continue with you annoying him? Because the guy's already a weirdo and it's clear he doesn't care about you unless you outright provoke him - he just goes back to his whole narcissistic dancing deal whenever you're not in his field of vision. It's very backwards that the guy we're supposed to cheer for has been acting like a buzz-killing asshole for over a month ruining Fandango's fun, but now that his fun has been ruined, all of a sudden it's time to get serious, no more goofing around, we're gonna fight. I don't get it.

Extreme Rules Match: Big Show vs. Randy Orton

Randy Orton non-championship feuds are the least fucking interesting thing. Randy Orton is a black hole of bland and boredom. This feud has been built on nothing but one guy randomly attacking the other and for some reason I'm supposed to care even though the guy I'm supposed to want to win is a fucking robot who keeps beating all the guys I actually like and acts like it's no big deal. Do you remember why they're feuding? It's because Orton was a glory-stealing douchebag and tagged himself in in a match against The Shield when Big Show wanted in instead, and then Orton got wrecked because he's a moron and Big Show decided "Fuck that asshole I'm not gonna help him." And somehow this has escalated into a goddamn blood feud which must be settled with an assortment of foreign objects. God I hate that guy.

Strap Match: Mark Henry vs. Sheamus
There's a lot of good and a lot of bad regarding the build to this match. Pretty much all of the bad is the fact that Sheamus is supposed to be the good guy when he's an annoying little shit who keeps ruining all of the awesome stuff that Henry does. The fact that Sheamus kept pushing and pushing and pushing Mark until he just lost it, grabbed some dude's belt and beat the ever-loving shit out of Sheamus with it in order to set up the match condition was pretty great though. Things escalated in a fairly logical and straightforward matter, and were it not for the fact that Sheamus's character continues to be absolutely infantile, this would've been absolutely great. Unfortunately unless Mark's going to get pushed to bigger and better things soon, I think he's going to lose.

United States Championship Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Kofi Kingston (c)
Um. Has there been any build to this match? I don't think there has...I mean I know Kofi was in a three-on-three match against The Shield recently, but that's about all I can think of. The Shield has been so focused on so many other guys in recent weeks that this match really comes out of nowhere. Still, Ambrose needs something to do in order to continue to establish him as the singles guy in The Shield, and you have to start somewhere.

Tag Team Championship Match: Team Hell No (c) vs. The Shield
I've been waiting four months for Daniel Bryan and Kane to lose their championships so that their team will break up, and now I fear the time has passed. Honestly they should've dropped the titles before or at Wrestlemania - possibly to the same group. That seemed to be the direction they were going - tension built at the Royal Rumble, it continued at Elimination Chamber, but then Wrestlemania rolls around and they're on the same page and get a fairly easy victory. And then they stand strong and united together against The Shield. On the bright side, Team Hell No and The Shield have been common foes since the latter showed up way back in November, so it's not like there's an absence of history between them. I think it's more important that Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns win this match than it is for Ambrose to win his. If they lose as a team again so quickly after Cena beat them all by himself, then their momentum will be ruined as so many villains before them.

World Heavyweight Championship #1 Contenders Match: Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger
So this was supposed to be a triple threat ladder match for the championship, but then Dolph Ziggler got concussed. Whoops. I can't imagine Del Rio losing this match, although I guess it's possible that some interference by Ziggler's crew might cause a draw. Now that I think about it, there's not much to be said about this match that couldn't have been said about the match at Wrestlemania. The problem is that this is a match in which the loser must specifically give up - and we've already seen Swagger tap out to Del Rio, at Wrestlemania. So...yeah. Sort of seems like a foregone conclusion.

Steel Cage Match: Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H
I have never watched wrestling at a time when Triple H wrestled regularly. From watching him for the past year, however, I have concluded that I would have despised him. The guy is just as terrible as every other major face - perhaps worse - at playing a good guy. He beats up and humiliates Paul Heyman at the drop of a hat, and never appears vulnerable, or frightened, or intimidated, or anything that Brock Lesnar is supposed to make others appear to be. There is no reason that I should watch this match and want Triple H to beat Brock Lesnar, unless I just really, really hated Brock Lesnar. Triple H decisively beat Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania. He got 'redemption' for the time Brock Lesnar beat him and 'broke his arm'. Since then, he has spat on everything that is supposed to make Brock Lesnar a draw as a villain - he has called him worthless, spineless, and a bitch. Brock Lesnar has retaliated by not being able to physically get the better of Triple H since then. Even with Heyman at his side, Brock Lesnar has looked helpless and lost. I don't see any reason why he needs to get the shit beaten out of him again. Instead I want him to break Triple H's arm again so he'll stop bragging for a while.

Last Man Standing WWE Championship Match: John Cena (c) vs. Ryback
See, this is how you do it. John Cena might also be a terrible heroic character, but at the least he has appeared vulnerable during the feud with Ryback, who is suddenly intelligent, crafty, and logical, proving that being evil makes you smarter. There was logic behind Ryback's heel turn and targeting Cena, and there has been logic behind each of his actions since completing the turn. He knows how Cena will act because the guy's predictable, so he takes advantage of that to plan sneak attacks. He knows Cena's foot is hurt, so he further aggravates the injury and, when given the chance to choose a match stipulation, chooses one that will put Cena at a greater disadvantage because of the injury. As a face, Ryback was a simple, unstoppable wave of destruction that lacked direction and simply sought greater competition. Now he has focus, and that makes him seem more dangerous. Frustrating as it is that Cena the character has dismissed Ryback's reasons as "whining", Ryback's gotten to shut him up and beat him up. It's nigh impossible to make Cena look like he's in danger of losing these days, but this time it's happened. I don't think Ryback will win, but I can buy that the possibility at least exists.


Rewriting the Books - Wrestlemania XXIX

Oh yeah, I usually write these before pay-per-views, don't I? Yeah. I kind of forgot for a little while because I felt like there wasn't much for me to say going into Wrestlemania that hadn't already been said, but then I thought of one or two things. Every other part of this article will consist of shit you've already heard before.


Rewriting the Books - Elimination Chamber 2013

I'm in kind of a shitty mood as I begin to write this. A lot of stuff is going through my head, is all, and hopefully I can temporarily forget that as I think way too hard about stories that were evidently written by eight-year-olds.


Rewriting the Books - Royal Rumble 2013

A lot has happened in the past month and a half, since my last post on this blog. Seriously, a LOT. Most relevant to the subject of this article is the fact that I attended a Raw show for the first time, back on January 6 when WWE came to Tampa. My family and I had a lot of fun, and it turned out to be a pretty good edition of the show on top of the unique experience of seeing the show live in the arena rather than on television. We got to see the end of the Punk-Ryback feud and the beginning of the build-up to Punk vs. Rock at Royal Rumble, which was absolutely amazing. I was really excited to see where things would go between the two of them.


Rewriting the Books - TLC 2012

I'll make this quick because I have like an hour to write this thing. It's the last pay-per-view of the year! And nothing important is happening!


Rewriting the Books: Survivor Series 2012

I'm going to have to make this brief because I'll have no time to write this post during the weekend, as I will be attending ShadoCon. Let's get this out of the way: the past three weeks have been absolutely agonizing to sit through. A quick recap of Hell In A Cell: I found it really disappointing. I'm not gonna go through it match by match, but to put it in simple terms, I thought that just about every match failed to live up to the hype it brought into the show. The matches themselves were entertaining, but aside from Del Rio-Orton (which ended about the way you would expect it to), Cesaro-Gabriel (which in addition to having almost zero build-up was a fucking Antonio Cesaro match), and Big Show-Sheamus (which had the most surprisingly awesome conclusion of the night), every other match had an unsatisfactory finish, and a couple felt like cop-outs. It's often the ending that determines your final feelings on a piece of entertainment, and it's also the one thing that's pre-determined in wrestling. As such I got especially annoyed by the show from the standpoint I write these posts from, which focuses on how storylines are built up and then concluded. But let's move on to the present.